Benitez confirmed as new Everton boss
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Everton are reportedly planning a January transfer swoop on boss Rafa Benitez’s former club, although it will not be for Allan Saint-Maximin as some had predicted. Instead, midfielder Sean Longstaff is set to be targeted by the Spaniard, a move that could be made that much easier to pull off if Newcastle’s Premier League struggles continue.
The Toffees have made a superb start to life under Benitez, currently sitting fifth in the table.
Their on-pitch success has taken the sting out of what was a truly controversial appointment, given his history with bitter rivals Liverpool and previous comments about the club.
The job done by their new boss looks even better when considering the penny-pinching summer overseen by owner Farhad Moshiri, a stark contrast to the frivolous windows in recent years.
Bargains like Demarai Gray and Andros Townsend, who have both hit the ground running at Goodison Park, could tempt the Everton board into letting Benitez loose with more money in January.
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Rekindling interest in Saint-Maximin could be one option, given that Everton were supposedly monitoring him this summer, although a number of factors suggest it could now be off the table.
For one, splashing out on a player of that calibre would surely only make sense if Richarlison left the club – which, obviously, he is yet to do.
Secondly, the eye-watering £70million price-tag quoted in the summer will only have grown since, with Saint-Maximin lighting up the Premier League with his early-season performances.
Although the Frenchman may now be out of reach, Benitez is still supposedly keen to tap in on the resources of his former side.
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The Independent claim that Longstaff is now more likely to make the switch to Merseyside than Saint-Maximin, news which will be bittersweet for fans.
An industrious midfielder certainly does not carry the same wow factor as a skilful winger, but Longstaff has proven himself at Premier League level and could provide a welcome boost to Everton’s ranks.
Based on his Newcastle career to date, however, he is hardly the kind of difference-maker who could bump the Toffees into the European places on his own.
Having said that, Benitez has clearly shown an ability to pick out a bargain so far, so what’s to say he can’t do it again.
Demarai Gray has been a revelation since being offered an escape route from Bayer Leverkusen’s bench, while Townsend, who has four goals and three assists already, was secured for free.
Longstaff could merely be the latest in a growing line of smart purchases. Surely it will not take too many more of them before the Everton board give their new boss more money to play with.
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